Published on Friday, 15 January 2010 21:40
Written by Bruce Gale
Standing at the podium, the conductor must transmit a sense of leadership and self-confidence. This is not merely in order to make it easier for him to get the players to respond to his wishes. Equally important is the effect his stance has on the level of confidence both the audience and the ensemble has in him as someone who knows what he or she is doing.
The posture may not come naturally.The legs should be straight, with one foot slightly in front of the other about 12-18 inches apart. The chest should be held high and the head erect, not off to one side or tilted forward. As with most other conducting skills, this stance is best tested in a mirror to ensure that it projects a feeling of being in command. The posture may not come naturally to some and may in fact feel quite awkward. Thus, it must be consciously practiced until it becomes habitual.
Foot tapping while conducting should be avoided at all costs. It is a visual distraction to the audience and appears amateurish at best. At worst, it suggests a certain rhythmic insecurity. Sometimes, the podium actually amplifies the sound, making the tapping audible. Let the movement of the hands keep time instead.
Hand and Arm Position
When conducting, the elbows should be held slightly outwards and forward of the body, not cramped against it. This allows the joints in the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers to move freely. In the ready position, the forearms should be roughly parallel to the ground or (in the case of shorter conductors) slightly higher so that they are level to the chest. In any case, no portion of any gesture should be so low as to be hidden from view behind a music stand or other obstruction. The hands should be held slightly above the wrist, palm facing the floor and the fingers slightly curved.